What a powerful word......AWESOME! We hear it everytime a new group of volunteers arrives at Back Bay Mission to begin a week of work. We hear it every Friday afternoon as work winds down for the week. And many times inbetween. The new dormitory, "Mission House", is certainly the place where new friendships are begun, where groups coming from different parts of the country begin to shape into cohesive teams for the tasks ahead. Oh, it could be just cooking and cleaning, or painting, or putting on a new roof, or hanging kitchen cabinets, or worshipping together.....but the teamwork that begins in earnest on Monday morning is awesome!
So while life here in Biloxi has not been perfect weather-wise this year, the work I am doing is, to reuse that word, "awesome"! The data-base of work camps has been totally updated, procedures have been set and are written (hopefully those who follow me will follow those), outlook folders have been created and have been well worth the effort to set up and the weeks spent to sort the mountain of emails received since last summer. All time consuming work, but those who know me well, know I cannot work in other than an organized fashion! Our Work Camp calendar is completely booked for 2010 and nearly full for 2011 and groups are beginning now to request dates in 2012 and 2013! AWESOME! To think so many have heard the "call" to come, to help rebuild Biloxi, to help our brothers & sisters at the time of their need. And, when they come, they too will experience to great spirit and hope of these wonderful people.
And even more awesome has been the outpouring of support for Haiti from this region. The African-American church where groups go on Wednesday for a Prayer & Praise service held a special offering two weeks after the earthquake and raised $9500! $9500 from about 100 church members for Haiti! And, with a gracious heart for they know, not imagine, but know the pain and suffering the Haitians are going through and they want to give all they can in thanksgiving for what they received 4-1/2 years ago......AWESOME! Even some of our homeless clients pitched in when the local TV station held a telethon. I was moved to tears!!
The weather has been absolutely horrid since I arrived.....December brought 18" of rain, January temps in the 20's at night and high 30's during the day, with wind that never let up. February....actually not any better (so far). This afternoon we had a period of sleet and tonight we could receive up to 3" of snow!! Obviously, I haven't had much opportunity to play golf or walk the beach. Hopefully it will begin to warm up SOON!
Life in the "Guest House" has been awesome too! Bill & Ellen are here for two months and are delightful to live with. Ellen and I share cooking duties while Bill is great with the dishrag and taking us out on Friday nights for dinner and a movie. Bill works as one of the construction supervisors, while Ellen is doing the job I had last year (support to Emergency Assistance department).
We had a great time Sunday watching the Super Bowl and putting ourselves completely in the spirit of the WHO DAT! nation with our t-shirts and hooting & howling during the game! It was great fun!! But the fun here did not stop at the end of the game.....for the Saints came marching in to New Orleans in grand style. I'm surprised Monday was not declared a holiday!!! It is just AWESOME! The folks here in Louisiana & Mississippi sure do know how to party!
In closing.......God presents us regularly with life challenges, and whispers "come, follow me". Where?...... Where ever your heart leads you!
Peace & love!